Breast cancer breakthrough: Pill gets approval in huge boost ‘Compelling results’

Last week the Medicines Healthcare Regulatory Authority – MHRA – gave the green light for the drug to be marketed in England following trial results showing the treatment stopped the return of early stage breast cancers following initial treatments such as surgery or radiotherapy.

The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) is expected to approve the treatment for NHS use within months.

Experts say the new therapy is the most significant breakthrough in this – the most common form of breast cancer – for two decades.

The combination therapy – abemaciclib (Verzenios) with endocrine therapy – was trialled in 5,637 patients in 600 hospitals in 38 countries across the world including the UK, the USA, Brazil, China, Russia and Japan

It was given to patients with a form of breast cancer which grows in response to female hormone levels.

This form of breast cancer accounts for up to 70 percent of all 55,000 new breast cancers a year and for those with certain high-risk features where cancer has already spread to lymph nodes, up to 30 percent of patients experiencing a recurrence within five years of treatment.

Taken as a twice-daily pill, Verzenio, also known as a CDK4/6 inhibitor, has been shown to block cancer cell proteins.

This prevents the cells from dividing and growing, helping to prevent relapse. The trial – known as MonarchE – found the drug reduced the risk of the cancer recurring by 32 per cent within the first three years. It is estimated around 5,000 patients a year would be eligible for the treatment.